Biodiversity Patterns along Ecological Gradients: Unifying β-Diversity IndicesReport as inadecuate

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Ecologists have developed an abundance of conceptions and mathematical expressions to define β-diversity, the link between local α and regional-scale γ richness, in order to characterize patterns of biodiversity along ecological i.e., spatial and environmental gradients. These patterns are often realized by regression of β-diversity indices against one or more ecological gradients. This practice, however, is subject to two shortcomings that can undermine the validity of the biodiversity patterns. First, many β-diversity indices are constrained to range between fixed lower and upper limits. As such, regression analysis of β-diversity indices against ecological gradients can result in regression curves that extend beyond these mathematical constraints, thus creating an interpretational dilemma. Second, despite being a function of the same measured α- and γ-diversity, the resultant biodiversity pattern depends on the choice of β-diversity index. We propose a simple logistic transformation that rids beta-diversity indices of their mathematical constraints, thus eliminating the possibility of an uninterpretable regression curve. Moreover, this transformation results in identical biodiversity patterns for three commonly used classical beta-diversity indices. As a result, this transformation eliminates the difficulties of both shortcomings, while allowing the researcher to use whichever beta-diversity index deemed most appropriate. We believe this method can help unify the study of biodiversity patterns along ecological gradients.

Author: Robert C. Szava-Kovats , Meelis Pärtel



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